“This is not an isolated act, nor is it a tipping point”, political science lecturer at the University of Paris-Nanterre and specialist in post-Soviet societies Anna Colin-Lebedev said on franceinfo on Tuesday, March 15, after Russian journalist Marina Ovsiannikova stormed his own channel on the set of a newspaper with a sign criticizing the war in Ukraine. this journalist “has an awakening political consciousness, as has been the case with quite a large number of Russians, but at the moment we cannot speak of a massive phenomenon because in Russia it is very difficult to form a collective protest movement against the war”adds Anna Colin-Lebedev.
franceinfo: What is your first reaction when you see these images?
Anna Colin Lebedev: It is quite surprising to see these images on a television where everything is normally arranged.
“Dissonant voices never have access to Russian television, especially on these channels that are under very strict state control, especially not in prime time.”Anna Colin-Lebedev, specialist in post-Soviet societies
It is one of the most watched television news, a well-known presenter, a Russian followed and well-known program that has not been seen on repeat since. So these are “shocking” images and since then they have been circulating on the few social networks that are still open in Russia. This is not an isolated act or a tipping point: this person is one of those Russians who has opportunities to learn about what is happening. She is a Muscovite, she is very involved in information networks, she has a personal sensitivity to the subject (her father is Ukrainian) and she has an awakening political conscience, as has been the case for quite a large number of Russians, but for the moment when we cannot speak of a massive phenomenon, because in Russia it is very difficult to form a collective protest movement against the war.
What does Marina Ovsiannikova risk?
It depends on how the court that will judge her will appreciate the seriousness of her gesture.
“She risks jail time because her gesture had a big impact.”Anna Colin-Lebedev
The new law of March 5 makes it possible to punish her with several years in prison, with a maximum sentence of 15 years. I’m not sure it will go that far, but the risk is real. In general, the Russian government intends to control the entire information landscape. The laws that penalize the discrediting of the Russian military or the discrediting of this military operation have the same purpose, so yes, the idea is to ensure that the few spectators who have seen these images remain isolated and that other such initiatives are not followed.
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But does that mean that it is impossible even for the Kremlin to know what the Russian people really think? Is there some form of self-censorship?
In general, in recent years, the Russian government has managed to cut off most of the channels that allowed it to know the moods of the population. Both the institutions of public opinion that cannot function, the opposition media that have the power let us know when the discontent grew, and these kinds of initiatives and their impact, as the closure of social networks means that power will disappear do not know much about the real impact of this video.
Like Facebook, Twitter or TikTok, Instagram is no longer accessible in Russia. How was this social network used and how do Russians experience these shutdowns?
It’s hard to say right now what the impact of Instagram’s shutdown will be. We know that the impact will be there, insofar as Instagram is a platform used less for political expression and more for the promotion of small businesses, especially in the regions of Russia, communication between ordinary citizens and the staging of a daily life that was acceptable, desirable, desirable. In my opinion, power anticipates very little about the impact of Internet shutdowns and controls on the Internet, also because there is no real understanding of how the Internet works within Russian political power. Despite the hackers we often highlight in our speeches about Russia, power lags behind the practices of the people.